The fourth wall between television and its audience is these days, at best, an open window. But those who work on a show have to be careful when looking out, and “Doctor Who” showrunner Steven Moffat is no different.
“I don’t go on forums and stuff because that could be very unpleasant for me,” he says. “But there’s also some beautiful work being done. I like sometimes, to go onto YouTube actually and just see what they’ve been up to.
“My own television career is a result of getting excited about “Doctor Who” when I was a kid,” he continues, “so I take great satisfaction and joy in the fact that it still happens, that our audience doesn’t passively consume, it actually engages and makes things that will launch whole careers.”
Last season, the show incorporated a fan’s video to create new opening credits after Moffat saw it on YouTube. He offered a few other fanwork recommendations:
These are the opening credits that would serve as the inspiration for Season 8 and now 9, though Moffat tips his hat to many others working in the same vein: “There’s some fantastic work, there’s a load of titles, and loads of them are terrific.”
“There’s that guy John Smith (not his real name, I’ve met him) who does these wonderful fan trailers and some incredible effects work of the Doctor meeting Sherlock.”
“There’s some guys, I think working out of New York, who did a musical version of the Doctor meeting Sherlock. It’s hilarious, it’s really good - good song, the two of them march around I think Central Park together. Bravo.” [Editor’s note: Right city, but it was Riverside Park.]
“There’s the Doctor Puppet, that’s actually extraordinary, there’s some beautiful artwork.”
Also rating a nod was the Doctor Who Fan Orchestra, appropriately far-flung as musicians from across the world submit recordings of themselves playing various pieces of Murray Gold’s score, which is then compiled into videos.
The influence of “Doctor Who” also goes beyond artistry.
“The bizarre one, the one that I can’t get my head around is, I’ve mentioned all the arty ones, loads of people become scientists because the love ‘Doctor Who,’” Moffat says.
“I often speak to proper physicists who are massive ‘Doctor Who’ geeks, and I tell them, ‘Our show must cause you pain at times given some of the nonsense we come up with,’ and mostly they say, ‘No, you really know your physics, you’re actually not that bad.’ So I don’t know how that can be true - the moon’s an egg! - but hey, according to physicists I’ve met who are ‘Doctor Who’ geeks, it could work.”